Visitors and Residents and Digital Citizenship

Visitors and Residents and Digital Citizenship

My recent post and exploring on residents vs visitors makes me think about some of the problems around the conversations about digital citizenship. When schools and districts want to discuss digital citizenship they usually want to emphasize the dangers and problems of thoughtless online behaviour. The tagline for digital citizenship for many educators is “don’t do bad stuff”. I think one of the reasons is that most people remain visitors of the web. In the same way when you take your children to visit another country or even a another family, making sure your kids behave themselves is the focus. You don’t want them to wreck anything. It’s largely about damage control. Conversely when you’re part of community, a resident of a country, your belief about citizenship is as much about contributions and impact rather than simply not doing bad things. When we grant someone citizenship we speak of responsibility to make things better, not just staying out of trouble. The message that most students are receiving about how to live and act online is coming from visitors. Since many of them are residents, this is an obvious disconnect. It would be like me telling my American colleagues how to be a good US citizen.

In addition those who believe in digital dualism will also continue to see citizenship and digital citizenship as unique entities. I think it makes me realize how determining if people see themselves as residents or visitors is increasingly important in beginning many of the conversations around technology in schools. People sharing the same space where one thinks they belong and the other is just passing through makes for very different approaches to living.

Photo Credit: neeravbhatt via Compfightcc

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Dean Shareski is a Digital Learning Consultant with the Prairie South School Division in Moose Jaw, SK, Canada, specializing in the use of technology in the classroom. He lectures for the University of Regina and is the Community Manager of the Canadian DEN or Discovery Educators Network. Read more at